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streaming wars

Netflix loses 200,000 subscribers for 1st loss in over a decade

Netflix's year is off to a rough start. 

The streaming company on Tuesday said it lost 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2022, a big miss after it projected it would gain 2.5 million subscribers. This was the first time Netflix has lost subscribers in more than a decade, according to CNBC. The streamer's big releases during this period included the second season of Bridgerton.

"Our revenue growth has slowed considerably," Netflix told shareholders, adding the "big COVID boost to streaming obscured the picture until recently." 

This wasn't the only bad news. Netflix projected it would lose two million subscribers in the second quarter of 2022, according to Variety.

Netflix, which saw a surge in subscriptions early in the COVID-19 pandemic, has been facing heavy competition from new streaming services, including Disney+. Disney's streaming service has climbed to about 130 million subscribers compared to Netflix's 222 million. One analyst has forecasted Disney+ will have more subscribers than Netflix by 2025.

Another competitor is Apple TV+, which beat Netflix to become the first streamer to win Best Picture at the 2022 Oscars. In its shareholder letter, Netflix noted it's facing "robust" competition, and it said another factor in the subscriber loss was the suspension of service in Russia amid the Ukraine invasion. 

One step Netflix may take is cracking down on password sharing. The streamer has been running a test prompting users to pay more to share their accounts with people outside their households. Subscribers would be able to "add sub accounts" at a rate cheaper than buying a full second subscription. 

On Tuesday, Netflix revealed it estimates accounts are being shared with over 100 million households, and the company said this password sharing is making it "harder to grow membership in many markets — an issue that was obscured by our COVID growth." Netflix hasn't revealed when its password-sharing crackdown might be rolled out in the U.S.